Monday, June 29, 2009

pizza worthy of the gods

after reading veggie option's mouth-watering review of newport pizza co, i had to give it a go. (since i started this post before i went on vacation, wine me, dine me and the food hussy have also reviewed it) several of my high school girlfriends have migrated to kentucky, so newport and covington tend to be regular dinner destinations. i don't want to commit to driving all the way down to florence (not to mention my distrust of urban sprawl), and the girls now like to stick to their own side of the river.

the place is pretty tiny and there was one lone server running around doing everything. she did call me "ma'am", but she was very sweet, so i let it slide. a sheryl crow concert was on the flatscreen, which was fine, but there was a malignant droning underneath that once noticed was impossible to ignore. when i asked the server what it was, she said it was "something in the kitchen". hmm.

but the important part of the evening - the food. jessie and i split the zeus. it was so simple (tomatoes, feta and asiago, basil, garlic) and so good. i loved the crust; just the right thickness and crispness. i am also a sucker for any mythological reference. this goes back to my first dog.
zeus, our newfoundland of 15 years. appropriately named in terms of grandeur, although being neutered, not much of a womanizer like his nameseake.

the zeus, extremely tasty pizza pie. appropriate level of grandeur. no comment on the womanizing.

stephanie had the bbq chicken. looked really good, and she seemed to enjoy it.

i think newport pizza co could become a regular stop on the south side of the river.

Newport Pizza Company on Urbanspoon

ode to hudepohl

i have been catching up on my reading, and i saw this post from westender. while the post focuses on olympia and burger beers, at the end is a photo including hudy delight with the caption "just walk away". i must protest. while hudy delight does approximate the runoff from the bengals' locker room, generations of cincinnatians have chosen to include hudy in their gatherings, much like decrepit uncle milt.

to prove my point, here is a picture of my grandparents sometime in the 1950s.

notice anything?that's right, my grandparents are happily drunk out of their minds on hudepohl. what a great testament to the drinkability of hudy and the frivolity that ensues.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

one week in greece: a pictorial

brian and i had an absolutely beautiful time in greece last week. below are some of the tidbits we tried.
first actual, for real greek gyro in athens. note the french fries on the sandwich. also made with beef off a stick, not shaved veal/lamb.

greek salad in delphi


on santorini, the best tzatziki ever. ever. (at naoussa restaurant)

eggplant dip with pita

tomato keftedhes. meh.


kataifi. favorite greek dessert.

breakfast at our hotel. not real orange juice - more like tang.

wine tasting at canava roussos wines, the oldest winery on santorini.

sunset and sweets. the pistachio ball had some kind of delicious marzipan-like filling.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

far from the madding crowd

sunday morning. brian and i drive aimlessly, looking for a breakfast apart from the church-goer mobbed bob evans. we happen upon the round table in cleves and enter. the marquee over the door promises apple pie and breakfast anytime. there are three lone men sitting at three individual tables. one is wearing a shirt reading "fbi: female body inspector". while clean, it is obvious close to a million cigarettes have been smoked at the tables over the years it took the varnish to build up and drip down the wood-paneled walls.

a congenial waitress with way too much eyeshadow for a sunday morning takes our order. brian's omelet and fat freddy burger are delivered to the table. he pronounces satisfaction. the fat freddy is reminiscent of a big boy, the omelet large. to me, the eggs look a bit dry. my mushroom swiss burger (a 3.5/6 on the burger scale) has rubbery mushrooms, but the fatty gravy and melted gooey cheese do a good job of disguising them.

alas, there is no apple pie as promised, but i do dig into some amazing 5-layer chocolate cake. the slice has roughly the same dimensions as my head. it is moist and superb. the cake is not made on site, but purchased from jetro (which sounds like something astro would say).

we had all this for a total of $21.24. would we go back? half of us would (not me, in case you couldn't guess).

sorry, no pictures. brian took some on his phone, but somehow we can't get them transferred to the computer.

Cleves Roundtable on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 12, 2009

guest post: josh riffs on larosa's

by means of introduction: i've pseudo-known josh for a long time. we go way back. back to grade school, in fact, like most westsiders. there exists a video starring us and other similarly rhythm-impaired pre-adolescents rapping about cincinnati; fortunately it is locked inside the bicentennial time capsule. needless to say, i have to stay on his good side in case a copy resurfaces, so i invited him to blog on one of our favorite topics - larosa's. his thoughts follow.

There’s a stereotype of Cincinnatians in general (and westsiders in particular) that we are born here, raised here, get married here and die here. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one of those stereotypical Cincinnatians. I grew up in Bridgetown on the west side and now I live in Delhi. For a brief time during college (at UC), I worked at my dream job in Houston. But, I decided I didn’t like it there, came back and changed my major. Soon after, I remember seeing a LaRosa’s billboard on I-74 declaring, “It’s good here.” And that’s how I felt. I liked the people here, the values, and the local food.

We used to pick up Skyline for dinner after every vacation. My grandma used to live across from the original LaRosa’s on Boudinot. We’d go over there many Sundays to visit and she’d take us across the street to the Pizzeria or if we were lucky, maybe to the Wine Cellar! I loved it. The pizza was always hot and delicious; with the sauce has that distinctive sweet taste you can only get there. I spent many a late night at that same Boudinot LaRosa’s after football games or a movie.

But lately, LaRosa’s has just not been very good. There was a recent post on Slice. The author, Daniel Zemans (who is from Chicago), had some very disparaging things to say about LaRosa’s. At first, I was a little offended. Who was this guy to be knocking our city’s pizza?! Then, I realized that for the most part I had to agree with him. It’s just not very good anymore.

It’s really hard to put a finger on what changed. For the past several years, whenever I’ve had LaRosa’s, it seems that if I’m LUCKY, the food is “just ok.” But, mostly it’s just not tasty. Everything seems mass-produced. The pizza just seems to sit like a brick in your stomach. Half the time, the cheese has slid off the pizza or the crust isn’t quite cooked all the way. With all the nostalgia and loyalty I had, it’s hard to admit that it’s just not good anymore. AND, the price has gone up significantly. They haven’t really introduced many new items, and when they have, they’ve mostly been mediocre at best (Montgomery Inn pizza? Little It’ly pizza?).

I dunno…maybe it’s me. My kids still seem to like it. But, to me, when the quality goes up and the price goes down, I’m going to head somewhere else for my pizza fix. For us, lately that’s been Trotta’s or Noce’s. And, that’s hard to stomach (pun intended) for a born and bred westsider like myself.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

post graduation celebration: morton's

you may not realize this, but there are not a lot of restaurants open late-night (after 10pm) downtown on a tuesday. since i wasn't really feeling up to bootsy's after sweating in a polyester graduation gown for 4 hours, the fam and i headed up to morton's for their $5 bar bites.
i didn't get photos of everything; there were a lot of little plates floating around the table. but here are some highlights.

bleu cheese fries. the fries were just fine by themselves, but the bleu cheese takes the decadence up a notch. well-played.

bleu cheese and bacon can murder any healthy aspect of a salad. this twist on a classic wedge salad was cool and satisfying. the lettuce was very crisp and fresh. the crunch contrasted nicely with the gooey bleu cheese. i kind of wanted to lick the plate.

mini-food never gets old. so cute, so tiny. it's like you've eaten nothing at all, especially not a cheeseburger. i actually liked these more than the petit filet mignon sandwiches, which i felt had too high of a bun to meat ratio. the depressing part of the whole evening was that even though brian's and my food was a mere $15, our bill was over $50. the culprit? you guessed it. $13.50 champagne cocktails (fabulous, by the way) and a $5.50 miller lite. alcohol will get you every time.

Morton's - the Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

debbie meyer green bags

there has been some grumbling that i'm a little too silent. a few weeks ago a friend of mine bought a box of the debbie meyer green bags. they look similar to the bags in the produce department, a little thicker and well green. designed to "prolong the life of your fruits and vegetables. now i admit i'm curious, but i'm also cheap. so when i see 20 bags for $10 i figure its not really worth it. however, when someone else buys them and gives you one its a much better scenario. we decided to try them with bananas. it appears that the moisture is trapped in the bag, but i don't really know whats happening. they were ripe (just right) all week.

ok the website explains the background;

THE STORY BEHIND THE BAGS; Scientists involved in Antarctic exploration were searching for ways to prolong the freshness of produce. During their research, they found a region in Japan where for thousands of years farmers have been storing produce in mountain caves with amazing results. The caves were dark, consistently cool, and dry. But it was discovered that the key to the remarkable preserving properties of the caves was a clay called "oya," and the cave mountain was made of it. The oya absorbed the ethylene gas that produce gives off as it matures. Green Bags combine ancient knowledge thousands of years old with space age technology for preserving produce.

we have re-used it several times.....the site states that they can be used up to 10 times. i imagine we'll continue to use it until it stops working. we have only tried it with bananas. i don't know that if it stops working we will go out and spend $10 on them but if you see them real cheap or split the purchase with someone it could be something useful to have around the house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

a night out downtown

very unfortunately we are losing our good friends jenn and mark to the great state of wisconsin (really, guys? what's there besides cheese and the packers? oh, ok, i guess mark's family, but whatever). what an excellent excuse for a dinner downtown with no-holds-barred drinking. the location? nada.

caipirinhas and mojitos all around

the caipirinhas are fabulous. ok, i don't have any basis for comparison, but i like them an awful lot, especially the passion fruit. and i just feel hip drinking them in such a swanky, happenin' place like nada.

my spanish lesson for the evening was that "dos equis" means "2 x's", not "2 horses". i began to wonder what the 2 x's are for. porn rating? did the original brewer have 2 ex-wives? no. the beer was originally named siglo xx, to celebrate the dawning of the 20th century. the name was changed after the turn of the century.

slider topped with tiny mexican flag


fantastically delicious sopes

tinga poblana

all the food was incredible, especially the short rib sopes. the meat was so tender and flavorful. no stringiness! nada is a satisfying experience every time i visit. their desserts are also quite wonderful. brian and i shared the chocolate cake topped with bananas foster gelato (mmm...) and jenn and mark had the churros.

warm chocolate cake

looks like bacon, but, nope, those are churros

as we meandered around fountain square after dinner, our nostrils caught the ripe and rich scent of horse manure.i have lived in cincinnati my whole life and never taken a carriage ride through downtown. and you know what? it's fun. our driver, fred, was sporting wrangler jeans and was a wealth of information about the buildings in downtown. his carriage softy played a soundtrack of louis armstrong and we cruised through the city pulled by oreo, the aptly named horse (if i'm not mistaken, that's caballo in spanish. look how much i've learned!).

oreo and jenn make up, shortly after he blew snot all over her arm

Nada on Urbanspoon

just call me doctor

i have to brag a little bit today. tonight i will be graduating from pharmacy school and will officially have earned the title of doctor, pharmd to be precise. i can't believe how quickly the time has gone by.

i also have to announce that starting july 1, i will be living in chillicothe during the week and only coming home on the weekends. i have accepted a residency position in the area. so, that means for the next year, i will be taking in all the local delights of chillicothe (i wonder how many times i can see tecumseh??). if you care to follow my adventures, or lack thereof, they can be found at One Year in Chillicothe.

of course, i will continue to write about my favorite subject of food. i will also strongly encourage my silent partner (ahem) to write more frequently.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

why study when there's indian buffet to be had?

it was a dark and relatively stormy afternoon. four pharmacy students hunch over a table, studying furiously for their last final before graduation. a low rumbling begins, and blood sugars are plummeting. strange things erupt from mouths, impossible mnemonics that are completely illogical.

jenn, heather, and matt; studying furiously

the first attempt to ward off hunger is a visit to the vending machine. peanut m&m's. matt tweets "i just had a dark chocolate peanut m&m-gasm". apparently blood sugars are back up, but focus is not what it should be. discussion of neurosyphilis and ibsen's ghosts ensues. clearly time to break for lunch.
what would be a better treat than indian buffet at amol india?
the legend behind amol and ambar's proximity and similarity is that two brothers feuded and the result was the competing restaurants.

don't park here unless you are going to amol or habanero. NO PARKING for ambar.

hungry pharmacy students enter via the back door. there is a vague odor of something unpleasant (urine?), but it quickly passes.

steaming indian buffet awaits

matt heaps spoonfuls of indian delights on plate #1

i load up my plate with round one. onion nan! today is a fabulous buffet day.

my plate

the problem with indian buffet becomes quickly apparent: no individualized spice levels. everything is prepared level 1. after sampling a number of dishes, chicken vindaloo emerges as the winner, despite mysteriously shaped chicken pieces. the vindaloo has a little more flavorful spice to it than the others. the saag paneer, usually a great favorite (um, ok, one of the greatest foods ever), is a disappointment when compared to ambar's offering next door.

on to dessert. some of everything, of course. the yellow is a custard with nuts, kind of a vanilla pudding without the sweetness. in the white is kheer. think tapioca with a light, refreshing taste (possibly cardamom?). the fried spirals of dough coated in crispy sugar are delicious javeli. (i am not sure where this name comes from; when i google it, a weapon used for hunting in portugal comes up most frequently.)

a trio of desserts

$30 (including tip) for three grossly full stomachs is not unreasonable. overall, the students are satisfied with their meal. perhaps a nap is in order rather than more studying. only time will tell.

three well-fed and happy students, eager to get back to not studying

Amol Indian on Urbanspoon

cactus pear

all the food at cactus pear is fabulous. i have never had a bad meal there. their mojitos and margaritas are equally outstanding. the atmosphere is friendly and the service (usually) stellar. it is another pharmacy student favorite, along with mecklenburg gardens.

but my point today is to rave about their salsa. it is the most unique chip accompaniment i have found. first, it's black. second, it's cilantro free (as far as i can tell). it has a roasted tomato taste and i suspect a recipe that includes crack. the nomerati mentioned recently it did not have enough of a kick, but i think the flavor is complex regardless. plus, less spicy equals more consumable to my bland midwestern palate. smoothly textured, the salsa can be amply heaped on a chip. my only complaint is they now charge $1 for this savory perfection.

mmm...makes mouths happy

so, go today for margaritas and chips and salsa. your tastebuds will dance and sing.

Cactus Pear on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

welcome back, ciabatta

larosa's has re-introduced their ciabatta sandwiches for a limited time.

i was quite a fan of the turkey ciabatta, which was not resurrected. instead i settled for the deli ciabatta with capacolla ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese and "ciabatta spread". previously, i remembered the spread on the ciabatta as a pasty, sun-dried tomato. all i could taste on this one was italian dressing. i have also never had provolone cheese in little oily cubes before; it was really more like feta. overall, the sandwich was fine, although not what i remembered and slightly overpowered with italian dressing.

is the ciabatta worth keeping around? the bread is unique, but the sandwich stuffing was suspiciously similar to a royal hoagy. i was excited about the reappearance initially, but now i would just be happy to get the ciabatta bread with my salad. i don't think the sandwiches add anything to the larosa's menu.

Monday, June 1, 2009

interesting taste sensation

today, i discovered something fairly disconcerting. i was eating at a bar and grill type place and found pinot grigio tastes really good with dill pickles.